The 2022 jury citation states, ‘what is the role of architecture in contexts of extreme scarcity? what is the right approach to the practice when working against all odds? should it be modest and risk succumbing to adverse circumstances? or is modesty the only way to be pertinent and achieve results? should it be ambitious in order to inspire change? or does ambition run the risk of being out of place and of resulting in architecture of mere wishful thinking?
Francis kéré has found brilliant, inspiring and game-changing ways to answer these questions over the last decades. his cultural sensitivity not only delivers social and environmental justice, but guides his entire process, in the awareness that it is the path towards the legitimacy of a building in a community. he knows, from within, that architecture is not about the object but the objective; not the product, but the process.
Francis kéré’s work also reminds us of the necessary struggle to change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, as we strive to provide adequate buildings and infrastructure for billions in need. he raises fundamental questions of the meaning of permanence and durability of construction in a context of constant technological changes and of use and re-use of structures. at the same time his development of a contemporary humanism merges a deep respect for history, tradition, precision, written and unwritten rules.
He has continuously pursued this task in ways at once highly respectful of place and tradition and yet transformational in what can be offered, as in the primary school in gando which served as an example to so many even beyond the borders of burkina faso, and to which he later added a complex of teachers’ housing and a library. there, kéré understood that an apparently simple goal, namely, to make it possible for children to attend school comfortably, had to be at the heart of his architectural project. sustainability for a great majority of the world is not preventing undesirable energy loss so much as undesirable energy gains. for too many people in developing countries, the problem is extreme heat, rather than cold.